This week’s Modern Art Notes Podcast spotlights “Petrochemical America,” a new book by artist Richard Misrach and landscape architect Kate Orff. The book examines the industrialized Mississippi River corridor between Baton Rouge, La., and New Oreleans. The region is infamous for its density of petrochemical plants and for high rates of disease, particularly cancer.
In this detail from Ashland-Belle Helene Plantation, Acquired by Shell Chemical, Geismar, Louisiana (1998), Misrach presents one of a number of examples of how the excesses of the petrochemical industry has forced Louisianans to abandon towns, homes or, in this case, other engines of economic activity. Ashland Plantation was both a tourist attraction and a frequent host to film and television productions.
“Petrochemical America” features Misrach’s pictures, commissioned by the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, and landscape architect Kate Orff’s Ecological Atlas, a series of narratives that establish a relationship between Misrach’s photographs, the region and man-made and ecological forces. An exhibition of Misrach’s and Orff’s work is on view now in the project room at Aperture’s New York gallery through October 6. Misrach’s ‘Cancer Alley’ pictures are on view at the High through October 7. (The book is also published by Aperture. Amazon lists it at $30 off.)